Johanna approached her mother's bedroom with all the grim dread of a prisoner on their way to execution. Solemnly, she stood at her mother's door, gathered herself together, and knocked.
"Mother, I've got something to tell you." There was a groan from inside.
"Is it important?"
"Yes, Mother, I'm afraid it is."
"Then come in, and make it fast. I'm very very tired." Johanna sighed, and swallowed the lump rising in her throat. She pushed the door open, and walked quietly over the creaking floorboards.
"Mother, you remember when Deirdre told you that she didn't step inside the fairy's ring?" her mother nodded, frowning in confusion, "well, she didn't tell the truth." Mrs. Rossyew's mouth dropped open, realizing the implications of this.
"Is she safe? Is Deirdre allright?" Johanna bit her lip.
"No!" she sobbed. "The fairies took her, and it's all my fault! Mother, I know you already hate me, but please, please don't kill me! I didn't think anything would happen!"
"You stupid, stupid girl!" Mrs. Rossyew exclaimed. Johanna looked up from the floor, tears running down her face. "You know what this means, don't you?"
"Yes. I'm going to have to get her back, and I will, believe me Mother! I promise."
"You'd better, because you're not coming back to this house unless you come home with your sister. I've had quite enough of you, young lady. You've backtalked, you've humiliated me, but this, this is the last straw. You can come back with Deirdre, or not at all. Now go pack your things," her mother said, her voice quivering, on the edge of tears.
"Yes moth-"
"Out! Now!" her mother jabbed a finger at the door. Johanna nodded solemnly, not willing to talk back to her mother this time.

Fifteen minutes later, Johanna had packed a rucksack with clothes and some food to last her for a few days. She also took along a small leather bag containing thirty florins, her life's savings thus far. If she had to earn more money along the way, she told herself, she'd have to figure out a way to earn it. As an afterthought, she tossed a knife into the bag. If she were to travel alone on the road, it would be a good item to have with her. Johanna took one last look back at the house, and left, without even saying goodbye to her mother. She turned her back on the only home she'd known for sixteen years, and walked towards the dim light of dawn.

As she walked, Johanna's mind was constantly thinking of what she could have done to prevent the abduction of her sister. " If you hadn't been so sarcastic, she'd still be here. If you didn't fight with your mother so much, she wouldn't have kicked you out." said a tiny little voice in her brain. Normally, Johanna would have fought such stupid thoughts out of her head. But right now, she was depressed enough to let them in and contaminate her confidence. *Wait a minute*, she thought to herself, * what should I tell someone that I meet on the road, when they ask me where I'm going?* She thought about it for a second, and then came up with an easy solution. *I just won't tell them. Where I go is my own business.* And that was that. After a while, Johanna stopped at the bottom of a hill at the side of the road, and laid back, trying to use her rucksack as a lumpy excuse for a pillow.

Johanna woke in the morning to the sound of ranting and raving. Someone was yelling a string of curses from the top of the hill. Cautiously Johanna made her way up the hill, towards the sound of the cursing. But she was not quiet enough. SNAP! To her dismay, she'd stepped on a twig. Johanna bit her lip, hoping that the speaker didn't hear her. Unfortunately, he did, and, thinking that she was somebody that he obviously did not want to meet, the string of curses turned on Johanna.
"Bloody idiot! Coming back for my clothing, are you? What, is my horse, food and money not enough for you? If you don't leave me alone, right now." shouted an angry voice from on the other side of the hill.
"Sorry?" Johanna interrupted.
"I said, if you don't leave me alone right now, I'll have no choice but to kick your sorry little tail all the way to the next." the face of a young man, as bright red as the hair that sat atop it, looked up. There were cuts, bruises, and scratches all over his face, legs and arms. A look of shock came over the young man as he saw his mistake. Immediately, the tomato-colored pigment washed from it, revealing a single but prominent freckle on the bridge of its owner's nose, and making his scratches stand out even more than they already did.
"Having some trouble?" Johanna asked.
"Oh.Er.Terribly sorry. You see, it seems some passing thieves up and stole my horse and.I'm sorry, it's just that I'm having the worst day a man could possibly have." he trailed off before adding, absentmindedly, "Or worst week, for that matter." Johanna raised an eyebrow.
"You're lost, aren't you?" she asked.
"No no!" the young man chuckled, "just, er, misplaced." Johanna sighed.
"Which road did you go down?"
"I came back that way from Trenny, and I met up with a fork about halfway down."
"Which fork did you take?"
"You just went straight on through?"
"That's right."
"You are lost! Why'd you do that?" Johanna wondered what might posess this man to go right off the road, when it was obvious he was supposed to take one fork or the other. At least that explains the cuts and scratches, she thought to herself.
"I'm a nonconformist."
"It's just a lifestyle! You shouldn't let a lifestyle control obvious choices."
"No no! It's not a lifestyle, that's my occupation," said the man.
"You're a nonconformist by trade?"
"How exactly would that work?" "Quite simple, really. Whenever a village needs a philosopher, or just someone strange to muck everything up, they send for me, and I go. They pay me to be odd."
"Can't pay very much."
"You'd be surprised, actually," said the man.
"Oh really? So you're on your way to your next job?" Johanna assumed.
"No, actually, I'm taking a break to go on a quest to get my luck back."
"I'm sorry," Johanna stopped to try and make sense of this new point, "How can you go questing for luck?"
"It was stolen. Just woke up one day, and it was gone."
"Never heard of that happening before."
"Well, it's not the sort of thing that happens every day, is it? I figure it must be some sort of punishment for something I did, but I can't think what."
"Maybe you weren't quite nonconformist enough."
"Can't possibly be that. I like to think I'm quite good at my job."
"Well," Johanna started, then paused, "What's your name, anyway?"
"Breggin Harver."
"Ah. Well, Breggin, where are you headed?"
"Erm.Not sure, actually. Where are you headed?"
"No place, really," Johanna covered herself, "Are you sure you can find the road all right?"
"Well, I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm not entirely sure where I'm headed."
"How can you go questing if you don't know where you're headed?"
"Well, I figure, I'll just keep heading in a bunch of different directions, and the sooner I find the bugger who took my luck, the sooner I can get back to wherever it is I want to go next."
"Well," said Johanna, now rather confused, "best of luck to you."
"And to you, miss, er,"
"Rossyew. Johanna Rossyew."
"Right, miss Rossyew. Here's hoping you don't catch my bad luck."
"Thank you, I suppose." Johanna waved, and continued walking down the road. 'What an odd person,' she thought to herself, but made a note as she walked to remember the name of Breggin Harver. She had a feeling that it might get to be important later on.